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Team Plays with Heart

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CHARLOTTE -

West Mecklenburg High School’s football team ended last year with a 9-4 season, and they are building on that success. So far the Hawks are 6-1, proving that they are a breakout team. They practice every day running drills and executing plays all for one reason – to make it to the playoffs and win a championship.

Head coach Jeff Caldwell says that despite the last twenty seasons, he wants to build a powerhouse and create a winning tradition.

“It’s very pleasant to see things coming together,” he said. “We get to see the joy of the kids and the happiness that they’re experiencing, because they were the same kids that were working so hard in the weight room, running the stadium, and doing those things two years ago.”

The team took on opponents like Independence High School this season. For West Mecklenburg the projection was a lost but the team answered with explosive plays and executed a bone-crushing win.

The players say that being the underdog has humbled them and made them work hard.

“We have to work as a unit to accomplish our goal and win a state championship… and hopefully we’ll reach our goal,” senior Shaun Wilson said.

His teammates echo that same sentiment. While some of the kids may come from low-income communities and face academic challenges, the football program provides an outlet for them.

“[It’s] the only thing I got, the only thing that makes sense to me. If it wasn’t for football, I’d probably be somewhere doing something stupid,” junior Van Smith said.

Smith committed early to Clemson. Quarterback Jalan McClendon will be attending NCSU next year, and Shaun Wilson is headed to Duke University. Coach Caldwell couldn’t be more proud of his boys.

The team is ranked 25 in the state of North Carolina. The Hawks are 1-1 in conference games, and they take on South Mecklenburg High School at home this upcoming Friday.


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